Coronation Street boss Iain MacLeod has seen the future, and he thinks it could mean the end of soap operas being shot on built sets, and whatever reality needs to be created can be done with the use of technology.
For a soon-to-be-released special episode, Iain and his team wore special gear: “That’s more commonly found in things like The Mandalorian,” he told us. Or they use a slightly larger version of this in a lot of the Avengers movies. It is called a volume wall.
Iain describes how this works. “Essentially, it’s like a very new version of what you would have called green screen or rear projection in the early days of talkies.
“But basically, it means you can put your actors anywhere you can imagine. Basically, you can design a 3D world, like the surface of Mars, and you can put Ken and Rita up there with a Mr. Kipling and a cup of tea, if you like.
In the upcoming special episode, the team used the volume wall to create an epic stunt involving Kelly Neelan (Millie Gibson) and Gary Windass (Mikey North).
“What we’ve done is create this incredible rooftop sequence with a kind of sparkling cityscape behind it,” says Iain. ‘So we can do things that you would normally never be able to do on a location shoot. You can put real actors in what appears to be very real danger without using stuntmen. You can make the camera behave in a way that it can’t in the real world.
“The camera can dive, fly and move in ways that can’t be done in reality. So we created this incredibly cinematic sequence for this week’s stage, which I’m incredibly excited about. I’ve only seen the rushes and it already looks amazing.
While this is unique to this special episode, Iain is so impressed by the way the technology helped them achieve the effects they were looking for that he can see it being used more in the future.
“We joke that there will come a point where we won’t need sets anymore,” he told us.
‘You just need a wall of volume and then you can go, bang, and you’re in the Rovers and then you go, bang, and you’re in the Kabin. We were all kidding about it, but a small part of me thinks that in 10 or 20 years that might not be so far from the truth, really. Having physical sets could be an anachronism.
“It’s unbelievably, mind-bogglingly brilliant. And the fact that you can click your fingers and you can be in the American savannah, or then you can click your fingers again and be on a lunar surface in a spacesuit, it’s amazing, completely amazing.
“It could be something that, as a genre, more and more shows use when they want to do something big and spectacular because you can do it a little bit more.”
Describing this new technology, Iain is like someone with a new toy and is clearly very excited. “It was all very exciting,” he says.
“You’ve never seen so many people make up a reason to go to a film set when they really have no reason to be there.” Everybody wanted to go and have a busybody. I had never seen anything like it!
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